Discover the work behind developing the National Water Grid

Why securing Australia’s water future is so important

Water supply and security are critical to Australia’s prosperity, particularly in our regional communities, where agriculture contributes around $60 billion to our economy each year.

Australia’s water infrastructure provides vital services and underpins Australians’ quality of life. Our agricultural sector has grown strongly on the back of international demand for our renowned exports.

Increasing access to secure and reliable water supplies has the potential to grow Australian agriculture to a $100 billion industry.

While historically Australia has a strong record of water management and investment, a new, national approach is required to position Australia for the long term, particularly as climate conditions continue to change.

  • Growing agriculture
  • Adapting to a changing climate
  • Increased storage
  • Better supply
  • Fact sheet: Securing Australia's Water Future PDF: 1 MB

The science of water security

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to securing the reliable water needed to support thriving regions, our agriculture and primary industries, and to build our resilience to drought.

Science plays an important role in identifying the infrastructure that is best suited to improving water security in Australia’s diverse regions.

Understanding Australia’s water challenges and opportunities

Securing a reliable supply of water is important for all Australians.

The National Water Grid Authority’s (NWGA) Science Program will use the best available science to investigate water infrastructure opportunities that will increase the supply of water for agriculture and primary industries.

The Science Program has been established to ensure investment in water infrastructure is informed by evidence, and supports water infrastructure solutions that are tailored to the needs of our regions. This includes exploring opportunities to better utilise Australia’s existing water infrastructure, and develop new infrastructure where needed.

The Science Program also develops information for water infrastructure stakeholders and the community more broadly, with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding of the role of science in developing water infrastructure for all Australians.

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Challenges

Drought conditions continue to affect our nation. Overall, we are facing drier, hotter conditions alongside an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events.

Drier conditions and weather extremes have a significant impact on our regional communities. Farmers, farming businesses and their families all acutely face the reality of production setbacks, which in turn impact regional economies.

Increase Australia's total irrigated area by about 20%

Opportunities

Despite the challenges of being on the driest inhabited continent on earth, our regions and their agricultural production remain strong. But as hotter and drier conditions continue more needs to be done to ensure continued regional and economic growth.

Ensuring the right infrastructure is built in the right places will improve water access and reliability to support new and expanded agriculture.

To be successful it will also require the supporting infrastructure, markets and supply chains. This includes in Australia’s north, where CSIRO research has found that groundwater, large dam and farm-scale water storages have the potential to increase Australia’s irrigable area by about 20 per cent.

Water and cultural values

The cultural and spiritual values of water are important for Indigenous culture and identity. Improved water security and reliability is also linked to Indigenous water interests and has the potential to support Indigenous economic development opportunities. Indigenous land interests and associated Indigenous water interests are an important consideration for water infrastructure opportunities in Australia.

Map of projects across Australia

What’s happening right now?

The Australian Government’s $3.5 billion investment in the National Water Grid is well underway, with more than 20 projects around Australia already in progress to supply billions of litres of water for productive use.

Explore our project map